KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 3 — Travel agency Albayt Travel (M) Sdn Bhd, which managed cosmetics entrepreneur Nur Sajat’s umrah — or minor pilgrimage in Mecca — explained that it has taken very careful steps to prepare her and her family for the trip.
Following backlash against the celebrity’s religious ritual amid ongoing controversy over her gender identity, the agency explained it has already informed Nur Sajat and her family of the differences in management and procedure involving their trip.
“The client admitted they understood the issue of the difference in gender status which may offend the sensitivities among the Muslim society,” it said in a statement, as reported by Harian Metro.
“Therefore, Albayt had taken very careful steps starting from preparing the documents for visa processing, the special umrah education class, and all matters involving religious rituals while in Mecca.”
It also said that it has reported the trip to the Consulate General of Malaysia in Jeddah, following public complaints online.
Nur Sajat was criticised on social media after photos and videos of her performing the pilgrimage went viral.
Muslims who complained mostly took issue with her wearing women’s clothes during the pilgrimage, as they accused her of not being a woman.
Nur Sajat continues to be hounded by authorities and some in the public over her gender identity.
In January 2018, Malaysian Islamic Development Department’s (Jakim) had then insisted that Nur Sajat needed to undergo a lengthy process in order for authorities to officially verify her gender.
Nur Sajat in her private social media accounts had instead given thanks to God for allowing her to perform the pilgrimage, and that she has “found herself” during the trip.
“Although I am like this, I know that I am a woman in myself and soul. I am lucky because not everyone is called to perform ‘umrah’,” she reportedly posted on her account.
However, Albayt said it had already advised its clients to not publicise the pilgrimage, as it was worried of backlash from some Muslims.
“According to Albayt's preliminary advice, the client agreed to abide by and respect the public's opinion by never displaying any kind of visual to the public regarding the possible causes of misinterpretation.
"But what happened was beyond our expectations and we hope everyone is clear on this," the company said.
Saudi Arabia only allows pilgrims to identify either as “male” or “female” in its visa application.